Monday, March 28, 2011

Sweet Onion & Broccoli Soup

If you served me this soup in a restaurant and told me that it wasn’t cream based, I’m not sure if I would believe you. It is so rich and delicious, that I am literally surprised every time I taste it that such plain ingredients can come together to make something so flavorful. Forgive me for the corporate buzzword, friends, but I’m gonna go ahead and call this vegetable synergy. Jazz haaaaannnnds.
In my house, broccoli has a bum rap. When I make it, Travis treats me like a perfume girl at a department store. Kt: “Can I interest you in some grilled broccoli this evening?” Travis, smiling politely while remaining at least two arm-lengths away: “Broccoli? Oh, not today, thanks.” Though he really means not ever; find someone else to hock your smelly broccoli to, lady. And if I’m cooking broccoli in the house, he inevitably announces that I must be making broccoli. I can only assume this is a warning cry for the neighbors, because, uh, clearly it’s not news to me that I’m cooking broccoli.

He’s not the only one though. I’ve heard, “I don’t eat broccoli because it make me gassy,” or “it’s too hard on my digestive system” (the timeless euphemism for “it makes me sh*t bricks”). Who cares? So do lots of other things and you eat them anyway. The thing is, people know that broccoli is good for them, so I’m not sure where the resistance comes from. I mean, one article on the benefits of chia seeds or pomegranite juice and people will down the stuff like there’s no tomorrow. But what about our old tried and true vegetable friends that have long been superfoods?! EAT SOME BROCCOLI, for crying out loud! (Perhaps I am overly sensitive because my eating partner doesn’t share my love for the mini trees of life, but all the same, I will continue with my public crusade.)
Most of the time I eat my broccoli raw or grilled. But I recently had some broccoli that was on its way out in the freshness department, so I decided to try my hand at making broccoli soup. V8 makes a Garden Broccoli soup that I really like (and will still eat if I need a quick soup), but it has a fair number of chemical-sounding ingredients. I liked the idea of making my own broccoli soup with just a few ingredients and avoiding wasted broccoli all at the same time. I know, I'm like some sort of superhero, right? 

Full disclosure: broccoli loses a lot of its nutrition when boiled. But it also loses nutrition when it sits in your fridge for a long time. So broccoli that’s already gone limp is a fine choice for blending up in some soup. I think you will be really shocked at how good veggies and lemon juice can taste when cooked and pureed. I don't know if I'll ever make Travis a broccoli lover, but I think this soup is a step in the right direction.

Sweet Onion & Broccoli Soup

Makes 4 servings

2 large crowns of broccoli
2 tbs. olive oil
1/2 medium-large onion, diced
1 jalapeno, diced 
2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
2 cups vegetable stock
juice from 1 lemon
crushed bay leaves (5-6 good shakes or 1/2 tsp.)
thyme (5-6 good shakes or 1/2 tsp.)
salt and pepper to taste

Required: blender or immersion blender.

Cut broccoli crowns into florets, discarding the stalk. Boil broccoli florets until tender, roughly 15-20 minutes. You should be able to break up the pieces with a spoon, but you don't want the florets to start separating on their own. Drain broccoli and set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium-sized pot. Add onions and jalapeno and cook over medium heat for 5-7 minutes, stirring often. Add garlic and cook for 5 more minutes.  Feel free to add more olive oil if needed to prevent onions from burning.

Add vegetable stock, lemon juice, crushed bay leaves, thyme, salt and pepper. (If you don't have crushed bay leaves, 2 whole bay leaves would work as well.) Give a quick stir to incorporate all ingredients. Add broccoli (the stock will not cover all the broccoli at this point)and let cook covered for 15-20 minutes.

Broccoli should be very tender and starting to break up on its own. Using a stirring spoon or spatula, break up the broccoli florets so that all broccoli is submerged in the stock. The photo above shows this phase. Remove soup from heat.

If using an immersion blender (which I don't have), proceed to blend. If using a regular blender, pour the contents of the soup into the blender pitcher and let cool for 5 to 10 minutes. Then carefully blend until smooth, pausing often to let steam out.

When using a regular blender it's probably best to let the soup cool for a full 15 to 20 minutes, blend, and then place back on the stove for 10 minutes to heat back up. But in the 4 times I've made this soup, I haven't had the patience for that. When working with hot soup, just proceed slowly with the blending process and make sure to let steam out of the blender often.

Also, keep in mind the limitations of a blender size should you want to double the recipe. A standard blender is not equipped to hold more than 1 batch of this soup at a time.

Serve with avocado slices or a dollop of plain yogurt.


  1. Yum! I made a broccoli and cheddar soup the other day, though it wasn´t nearly as classy as your concoction. Also loving that mug/bowl!

  2. Sorry, bud, but it's really best for all of us if I continue my crusade *against* those "mini trees of life."


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